Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Constant Failure in Pursuit of Perfection

Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to have it all together? I always assume that everyone else has it together and that I'm the long flailer/straggler/lazy lump of the group.

I look around at groups of women and think, "How does she do it? How do her kids always look so clean and well-groomed and well-dressed? I didn't even brush my kids' hair today. How does she seem so with it? I didn't even brush my own hair today. How does she find the time to do all she does? I just piddled away another day, constantly doing something, but never finishing anything. How is she so confident and so sure of herself on the parenting front? I question every single decision I ever make and never know how the hell to handle different kid situations. Why do I feel like I'm lagging behind these other women?"

Do you do that? Or is it just me.

I've heard how men judge each other....and it is based on heirarchies and jobs and blah blah alpha dog blah blah. Full-time moms don't have those things to base their judgements on. I think full-time moms judge each other on how together they are. How great their kids are doing. How clean their house is. How much fun they're having with their families. How easy they make it look. How productive they are.

Isn't it kind of ridiculous?

I think it is. And yet, I find myself doing it. And mostly it is out of an inferiority complex or something. It is like we moms are pursuing perfection. Those that appear to have achieved it are lifted up and admired. We are all trying to get there. But, perfection is impossible. And boring. How retarded. None of us are ever going to be perfect. What a ridiculous thing to be judging each other on. Is it possible that none of us feel like we have it together? Even those that appear to?

Maybe we're all just doing our best and some of us (*Ahem*) have expectations that are a bit too high and just need to relax and go with the flow!

Or maybe, I need to get off the computer and do something productive.


Laura said...

I totally do the same thing. I think most of us stay-at-home moms do. Ot at least I hope others do or you and I are screwed.

Swistle said...

And you know what's weird? I like people SO MUCH BETTER when I find out they're NOT perfect and DON'T have it all together, and in fact I feel JOY if I go to someone's house and it's messy, while if it's too clean I think "Welp, guess this friendship isn't going to work out"---and yet, I still lose my mind with stress trying to make the house look perfect before a playdate. Whuh? Do I WANT people to like me LESS?

lisa said...

my house is always messy. Always. And I just give up. I can make myself miserable and constantly try and keep on top of it or I can just do the best I can. I mean-- its not like hoarder level messy but, just, as soon as I pick up something another basket of toys is dumped out, crayons rolling off the table, etc. I've even stopped apologizing to friends when they come over because whats the point-- at some point I just have to accept that this is the way we live, its not organized and clean and neat all the time. But Im happy and Im ok with it. :)

Natalie said...

Katie, this was a great post. Case and point:

A very very dear friend of mine here has a SPOTLESS house. I asked her, the other day, if she had oven cleaning tips. She didn't and she explained that it's because she has NEVER EVER used her oven enough to have to clean it. She's in her 30's with children. She never wants to go to BBQ's or playdates where she has to bring something b/c she hates to cook. I think she refuses to learn to cook b/c she doesn't want the mess. I dearly love this person and we have everything else in common, thankfully - but, she's depriving her kids of not only learning how to cook, but, of having broad palates. They eat PB&J, on average, twice daily. Her kids will be the ones who come to your house and watch in awe as you make brownies or cookies from scratch. You'll serve food they've never had in their lives and you may have to make them something else b/c they refuse to eat. On any given day, you can eat off her kitchen floor. Since she doesn't cook, dinner is kind of a free for all and they NEVER eat dinner as a family. Her house is so spotless, she could decide to move tomorrow and show her house immediately - while the rest of us would be cleaning for days or weeks to get it to that standard. You just don't know how much time cooking takes up until you walk into a house of someone who doesn't cook.

The fact that you sprayed down your children's tub before the cleaner came means you have it together even more than I do. I had a housekeeper the whole time I lived in Portugal and never kept it clean for her. But, I no longer concern myself with who has it together more than I do. I just try to watch what they do and learn. At times, on this motherhood journey, I've picked up a trick here or there that has helped me. I grew up in a very disorganized house and to this day it just doesn't come naturally to me and I refuse to beat myself up over it.

So, while I do, often, ponder exactly what you wrote about in this post, I now KNOW that the people who appear to have it so together have given something up. Whether it be cooking, friendships, gym time, date nights w/spouse, sleep, personal time, etc. No one has it together in every area of their lives. It's impossible. Every mom has one or two (or more) what I like to call, "dirty little secrets."

Angie said...

I don't have it all together. It's impossible to do it ALL. Occasionally, I'll start feeling like supermom, because I manage a few good things. Then, I'll get smacked down by a horrible trip to the supermarket or the realization that my child is the ONLY one who doesn't know how to rhyme.

Bevo said...

Sometimes I think it has to do with our society not valuing and/or not understanding the energy, patience, and hard work involved in stay-at-home mothering, and the subsequent need mothers feel to prove themselves. But, maybe it's the same for any job. No matter what our jobs, we want to be seen as competent and efficient. There are perfectionists in every field. Most of us do care about how we are pereived by others.

Andrea and Ben said...

Google the motivated moms website, I am thinking about subscribing.

Jen said...

We all have our weaknesses, right? Except then we all know someone who seems to have all their shit together and then I doubt what the hell I am doing. We just have to do the best we can. Right? RIGHT?!